Professionalizing the beauty salon industry

It’s so disgusting going out for hair treatment especially on a Friday, just to leave the salon disappointed not only for the time you spent there, but also the poor services provided.
Some of the trainees of Universal Beauty Saloon.
Some of the trainees of Universal Beauty Saloon.

It’s so disgusting going out for hair treatment especially on a Friday, just to leave the salon disappointed not only for the time you spent there, but also the poor services provided.

“At that time, one is left with no option but to pay and leave; meaning that a customer pays for services which did not satisfy her,” says Aline Munezero, a student at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE).

“Salon work is very delicate as it deals with applying for example cosmetics on our body or hair in case of any mistake as a result unskilled labour, it will directly affect the customer,” adds Munezero.

Munezero points out that although there might be others factors; there is a challenge that most people working in beauty salons rarely go for trainings to get the required skills.

“Conduct a mini survey about labour in salons in regards to their skills. Trust me, most of your respondents will say they became experts in the field at their work place,” Munezero says.

One of the people who have heavily invested in the industry is Alphonsine Niyigena, a lady with a number of beauty salons in Kigali City.

But just like Munezero, Niyigena says that there is a problem of getting people with the required skills to operate in modern beauty salons.

“I also did not have the skills, but I had the idea of investing in the beauty salon business since 2007, when I started or opened my first salon in Kiyovu,” says Niyigena.

Niyigena adds that, “Based on my determination, I did everything possible to ensure that I start this business. Although I succeed, that was just the beginning of a long journey.”

She explained that although the business was booming, she felt like there should be a mechanism to further train not only her staff, but more youth with the desire or interest of joining the beauty salon industry.

“My prayers were answered last week, when I managed to open  Universal Beauty Academy (UBA), a project that cost me Rwf 120 million,” she explaisn.

Located in Kimironko sector of Gasabo district, Niyigena`s salon has the capacity to accommodate 360 students in shifts. It also has sections of theory courses in beauty therapy and hair dressing as well as practical hair dressing.

“Although I call it my business, I knew that by coming up with this project, I will be improving on the way services are provided in the industry as well as giving many youths chances of employment especially those who did not get the chance to get high in education,” she says.

To further enable her students to have other related skills, the investor told The Sunday Times that courses like computer training in salon management, accountancy and stock management will also be offered.

At the academy, a 12 month course is the maximum long term course students will undertake paying a total fee of Rwf 540,000.

Upon successful completion, graduates will either walk away with certificates or diplomas based on each one`s undertaking.

“This will prove their capacity professionally and help them to seek employment thereby improving on customer care services in our business,” she said.

Speaking to some of the students who have already been admitted they are hopeful the academy will bring changes in the beauty salon service delivery and also increase on the level of their income.

“I have been working without professional skills but when I get my certificate, it means I am professional in the field. I will therefore have to discuss with my boss to consider reversing my salary,” says one of the students, Aline Nyiramatama, a hair dresser at Look Nice Beauty Salon in Nyamirambo.

She noted that there is underpayment in the industry attributing it to lack of qualified people with the skills to bargain for higher pay.

 According to Nyiramatama, mobility of labour depends on the level of education or how skilled it is; implying that in this case, “we shall be able to change or move for greener pasture in case we realize that our salary does not rhyme with the work we do as professionals.”

A salon owner at Kinamba in Kacyiru, Albert Mugarura, appreciates the move urging those in the industry to join such other academy.

“Any business or salon will attract more clients only if it offers quality services. Therefore, if our workers are able to satisfy clients, we shall get more of them which implies that business will be booming and increasing worker`s monthly pay can never be a problem,” Mugarura said. 

During the event to open the academy, the Chairman of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Faustin Mbundu, said PSF will push for the promotion of a regulatory framework something that will boost investment in the hair and beauty industry.

Jerome Gasana, the Director General of Workforce Development Authority (WDA), pointed out that the initiative supplements measures government has put in place to help fight unemployment amongst the youth.


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